Saturday, September 22, 2012

Free Shipping Programs...Worth it?

You may have heard about "free" 2-day shipping program offerings where you pay about $79/year and receive unlimited shipping.  I say "free" in quotation marks because if you are paying $79/year, there's actually a cost to it.  However, what some of these programs do offer for that money can more than make up for the cost in extra benefits beyond shipping savings.

1. Shop  ($79/year).  Free 30-day trial.  They can explain their program better than I can, so take a minute a watch the video below:

2. Amazon Prime. ($79/year). Free 30-day trial.  No video, but the info graphic says it all:

3. Free ($156/year). Free 30-day trial.  No video, but this is a screenshot:

I am sure there are others, but Amazon Prime and Shop Runner are probably the best known.  The following table provides some basic comparisons between the offerings:

So, is it worth it?  That really depends on how much online shopping you do.  Because Shop Runner is so limited in its partners, I have only saved $40.  Since I had a free trial for a year, it didn't cost me anything, but I am not likely going to renew this next year when it expires in January.  If I didn't have Netflix already, I'd consider Amazon Prime because of its entertainment options.  Really, except for the limitation to just Amazon, this is probably the best deal.  Two day shipping from a trusted retailer, plus entertainment.  

Free wasn't forward with its pricing structure until you begun the sign-up process.  I don't like that. But, it does cover 1500 retailers, which is pretty amazing.  Big names such as Nordstrom and Nike are covered, whereas Shop Runner has and Domino's Pizza.  But, at $156/year, I think I can probably buy enough as it is to get free shipping from retailer's normal thresholds.  I am going to pass for now.  But, you could take advantage of their free trial for 30 days and get some free shipping while you are it.

Let me know your experiences with these services, or others I might have missed.